Agricultural adaptation to climate change: insights from a farming community in Sri Lanka
Esham, M. and Garforth, C. (2013) Agricultural adaptation to climate change: insights from a farming community in Sri Lanka. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 18 (5). pp. 535-549. ISSN 1573-1596
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s11027-012-9374-6
The vulnerability of smallholder farmers to climate change and variability is increasingly rising. As agriculture is the only source of income for most of them, agricultural adaptation with respect to climate change is vital for their sustenance and to ensure food security. In order to develop appropriate strategies and institutional responses, it is necessary to have a clear understanding of the farmers’ perception of climate change, actual adaptations at farm-level and what factors drive and constrain their decision to adapt. Thus, this study investigates the farm-level adaptation to climate change based on the case of a farming community in Sri Lanka. The findings revealed that farmers’ perceived the ongoing climate change based on their experiences. Majority of them adopted measures to address climate change and variability. These adaptation measures can be categorised into five groups, such as crop management, land management, irrigation management, income diversification, and rituals. The results showed that management of non-climatic factors was an important strategy to enhance farmers’ adaptation, particularly in a resource-constrained smallholder farming context. The results of regression analysis indicated that human cognition was an important determinant of climate change adaptation. Social networks were also found to significantly influence adaptation. The study also revealed that social barriers, such as cognitive and normative factors, are equally important as other economic barriers to adaptation. While formulating and implementing the adaptation strategies, this study underscored the importance of understanding socio-economic, cognitive and normative aspects of the local communities.